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How Should Parents Guide Their Children's Technology Use

Updated: September 12, 2018 01:48 PM

Technology is becoming more and more advanced and with that, kids are changing their digital habits. 

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As a part of our Back to School series, we sat down with Laurie Anderson, an Instructor of Psychology at the College of St. Scholastica who also has experience as a high school teacher and school counselor, and talked about how parents can guide their children in their technology use. 

With kids being drawn to their devices like smartphones, laptops, and tablets, Anderson said parents need to decide what works for them and their family.

"Media use should really fit with their values," Anderson said.  "They should sort of set a precedence, so what they do with the oldest child, they should sort of continue with all of their kids."

Anderson said it's also really important to set boundaries and have standards.

"It's easier to relax your standards than it is to introduce them, once screens or devices are put into their hands," Anderson said.  "It's always important to consider your own screen use, put your phone away when you get home from work, consider having device-free meals, don't use them in your bedrooms, show children sleep is really important."

Setting time limits for children's screen use is important because kids might not be watching the clock. Anderson said another recommendation from experts is to have a family media plan. 

"The American Association of Pediatrics has a really good one on their website," Anderson said.  "A media plan or a contract that spells out how you want the phone to be used, how you want social media to be used, so those are some good options." 

When it comes to age appropriateness of introducing technology or social media, Anderson said to delay it as long as possible.

"Children have a lot of peers who have phones and sometimes they're introduced earlier in other homes, so I would try to hold off until middle school," Anderson said.  "The recommended age is 14, but again I know that's a little bit difficult to wait until."  

She said a media plan or contract could be useful in those situations.  It's also important to just talk to children, Anderson said.

"A mandate that's too strict probably isn't going to work today," Anderson said. "Screens are here, these devices are here forever and so we need to be working with them, talking about their screen use, working with them and developing a plan."

When it comes to monitoring their child's screen time or technology use, Anderson said it's up to the parents.

"Parents should ask themselves, 'What is my child not doing?'" Anderson said.  "If their child's on their phone or their devices too long, they're probably not getting outside, they're not exercising, maybe they're not sleeping, so time really should be managed. 

Copyright 2018 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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